Now, not only can anyone create content online, but we can make it GOOD too.
mass-produced themes and platforms are now not just cheaper, but demonstrably better, than hand-crafted websites.
Now you can have a professional-quality website without hiring a professional.
The magic factor is: economy of scale.
Put simply, whenever there’s a potential mass-market for any product, it doesn’t make sense to design each one individually, or to craft each one by hand. Standardizing, systemizing, automating, and then optimizing the production process lets you make more products more cost-effectively.
And that’s the tipping point… when you can buy an off-the-shelf product that is not just cheaper, but is also better, because it has had far more money, skill, and effort invested in its development than a custom builder could possibly afford to match.
The Future for Web Design Professionals
They’ll argue that style and originality are important, and that clients demand originality. (They’re right that visual appeal matters, but the truth is that it doesn’t matter anywhere near as much as they believe,
..real-world pragmatism means that making something work is far more important than making it work perfectly.
publishing platforms are probably already better at producing standards-compliant code than the typical web page producer.
The Three Types of Web Designer
The high-end totally custom design and build; The design of mass-produced component products for the retail catalog; And the interior design of the actual room, using those mass-produced products.
Option 1: The Custom Website Niche
Option 2: The Product Development Market
The specialties that are most immune to outsourcing will be those that either require deep understanding of the target audience, language, or culture, or which have natural barriers to learning (such as expensive training courses, or geographic focus).
Option 3: The Client-Facing Marketing Specialist
The core problem is that nobody knows what the right marketing campaign looks like for any particular business, in its individual market and with its own unique environmental factors.
The truth is that great marketing is extremely context-dependent, but that’s really hard to make into a profitable course.
A Radical New Approach
Now, anyone can have a website that’s well-designed, SEO- ready, looks and works great on all devices, and comes already hooked up with social media, video marketing, and professional- standard email automation.
Professional-quality execution matters, but it is now the price of entry. It doesn’t make anyone competitive anymore. The future competitive edge will not only be in execution, but increasingly in strategy.
It is about knowing what you want to achieve, and the direction you need to take, before you invest a penny in rolling out a campaign, buy a single click, or write the first landing page.
That clarity of purpose makes it easier to see how to deliver a message that folk will respond to.
The future of the client-facing web designer is to design marketing campaigns.
Your Option: Marketing Strategist
We have to put an end to “headless” marketing, with either clients being expected to produce the brief for marketers to follow, or the equally ineffective situation of a client hiring a series of individual skill specialists, each of whom may be tempted to undo the work of the previous ones.
In the old Wild West days of web design, life was pretty simple. If you wanted to be online, you needed to hire either a web design agency or a freelance web designer, who would have the skills you needed to get a website. But success in online marketing today is not just about websites.
In fact, many small businesses— who may have paid for a series of poor websites over the years— are finding that they don’t need a website at all!
It should not be the client’s responsibility to figure out if they need a new website, or if their old one is good enough.
If even professional marketers cannot maintain mastery of all the choices out there on the market, how can we possibly expect clients to do so? I think we should say goodbye to the idea of the “client brief” for ever, and give clients what they really need: true professional guidance.
We will tend to make recommendations based only on what we know well, which means that clients cannot always get the best advice— or the best results.
No technique is right for everyone. The answers must come from the results of your Strategy work.
The key criterion of success is definitely having the right strategy to start with.
Effective marketing should be agile and responsive, constantly watching and listening for new developments.
So any complete campaign should allow for… monitoring (through Analytics, SEO, and social media tools), consistent interaction with the customer base (through PR, email, and social media), and usually for optimizing both conversion rates and traffic sources (SEO, pay-per-click, and social) over time.